Friday, February 20, 2009

From The Fields To The Frame: An Art Review

I've written before on the subject of food as art; the idea that what travels from your brain to your cutting board to your plate is a an artistic pursuit in its own right. So I'm thrilled to report on a genuine artist featuring my, well, medium, in a bold new light.

We all know what you see isn't always what you get, and seldom does this work in our favor. Pablo saw: "Meters free after 6pm! Pablo got a ticket. "Eugene saw a .99 cent value menu; Eugene got hypertension." But on the more beautiful, more mystic side of the coin, what you get isn't always what you see. That's how I sum up local photographer and good friend John Steck's new show unique prints. It opened last Monday In Boston's South End at Sister Sorel, a hip, cozy restaurant and an ideal venue for this innovative body of work. As you can tell by the images on my blog, I'm not the photographer here, so I'll leave the gory production details out of it. But by using an original process that produces neither a photograph nor a photogram, John captures images of the everyday fruits and vegetables we see in the market and renders them as alien and visceral as an organ viewed from outside the body. Ever taken biology and been both repulsed and awed by the sight, the feel of, say, the delicate veins in a mammal's heart? This work has that effect on the unassuming produce he captures. It's partly weird and a little warped - but maybe because you've never seen an broccoli floret that way. You may never look at an orange the same after seeing the way the light pores through each capsule of this succulent citrus. Some images aren't readily discernible as something your might put in a salad or a stir fry. Indeed, there's a subjectivity to it all. It's not so much what the image is, but what the viewer's perception and experience allows him or her to see. Subjectivity is a mighty thing, especially in the natural world. These are the beauties of nature that have mystified and inspired us from Fibonacci to Whitman and countless numbers before and after.

If your standard food photography is like Matt Damon - straight-forward, easy-on-the-camera-easy-on-the-eyes, then compare this show to, say, Johnny Depp - that edgy, je-ne-sais-quoi kind of appeal.

unique prints by John Steck Jr.
On view through March 8th at Sister Sorel, 645 Tremont St, Boston
Images from this series are on John's blog.
And check his website for more on his work.

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